Manslaughter is a legal term that refers to causing the death of another human being in a manner that the law considers less intentional and less culpable than murder.
In general, laws are made to distinguish between levels of criminal fault based on the “mens rea,” or state of mind, of the accused. In the case of homicide, for which the intent to kill is required, this is especially true. As opposed to homicide, manslaughter is a misdemeanor.
Vehicular manslaughter is a form of misdemeanor manslaughter in which a person is held responsible for the death of another individual because he is guilty of criminal negligence or because he has committed traffic violations.
Vehicular manslaughter laws are often referred to and applied during the prosecution of an individual who has killed another person while driving under the influence of alcohol. For the person to be accused of vehicular manslaughter in these cases, however, it is usually necessary that the accused usually be guilty of an independent infraction (e.g., reckless driving) or of negligence.
Some states in the U.S. have developed their own definitions for vehicular manslaughter offenses. In Texas, intoxication manslaughter does not apply to situations where motor vehicles are involved. It includes situations in which an intoxicated person is operating an aircraft, operating a watercraft, or operating an amusement ride, and the level of intoxication accidentally leads to the death of another person.